The 1887 Yellow River Flood

Huang He River, which is also called the Yellow River, is responsible for most hazardous floods in China. The river is three thousand miles long, running from Qinghai province in the northern mountain to the Yellow Sea, which is situated between China and Korea. Thanks to the massive property destruction and the loss of live it has caused, the river has been dubbed ‘’China’s Sorrow’’ by westerners. In 1887 alone, 900,000 people died in the floods. It did not end there as close to four million people died in the 1931 floods and almost one million died in 1938.

The Yellow river is prone to flooding due to its elevated nature. Before the 1931 floods, the 1887 floods was had emerged as the worst ever natural disaster in history. Over the centuries, dikes had been built along the river by farmers to regulate the rising waters caused by the building up of silt on the riverbed. Despite measures being taken by farmers near the river, the heavy rains overcame the dikes and caused flooding that had never been seen before.

Due to the low lying nature of plains near the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province, the waters of the Yellow River are thought to have broken the dikes in Huayankou. This made it possible for the floods to spread quickly in the entire Northern China. The floods covered an area of about 50,000 square miles and destroyed farms, homes, commercial centers and other property whose accurate value is still not known to date. A total of 2 million people were left homeless and without basic amenities. So far, the Yellow River has killed close to 4 million people due to flooding. What a curse!

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